THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Of morals, politics and The Guardian

The greatest gift that I possess?

I love a good Ted talk even though most share the leftist bias of Western academia. This one was particularly interesting. Consider this finding, in particular;

A year after losing the use their legs and a year after winning the Lotto, lottery winners and paraplegics are equally happy with their lives.

It seems shocking but is really just a confirmation of President Lincoln's wisdom that 'most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be'. This homely thought is revolutionary. If happiness is up to the individual, how can you justify the use of force to compel behaviours you think (by definition, wrongly) will make him or her happier?

The defectiveness of our pre-frontal cortex's 'experience simulator' when predicting 'hedonic impact' may explain why so many people buy lottery tickets despite being more likely to die in an accident on the way to the newsagent than to win. Perhaps the power of our 'experience simulator' may also explain why political debate changes so few minds?

For example, the NHS is - to me - clearly a life-threatening failure, yet a majority of Brits have synthesised such happiness around it they are convinced benighted foreigners live in miserable envy of its death factories. During the murderous, oppressive life of the Soviet Union, many of its citizens synthesised plenty of happiness too - and who can blame them? Yet how do we persuade people to support change if they are busy synthesising happiness around whatever outcome they are enjoying or enduring?

Consider also Professor Gilbert's conclusion that freedom of choice is the friend of 'natural happiness' but the enemy of the 'synthetic' variety. I would be worried about that, but perhaps I should just decide to be happy?

I am confused.

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